Can Unbelievers Please God?

There are scriptures that proclaim the love that God has for human beings so lavishly that it almost feels wrong.  Once a person understands what they were in their natural state before God it seems unthinkable that God would set His affection so highly on such fallen creatures.  We will get into these stunning scriptures soon, but first I want to ask:  Who does God delight in?  Who does He take pleasure in?

He Has No Delight In The Life of Unregenerate Men

This is an incredible verse, much overlooked but very relevant today.

Malachi 2:17 “You have wearied the Lord with your words.  But you say, ‘How have we wearied him?’  By saying, ‘Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.”

In an age where one of the most common statements from a pulpit may well be “God loves and accepts you just the way you are,” this verse should strike fear into our hearts.  I can’t help but think of one of the most popular and successful preachers of our time, Joel Osteen, who stated on Larry King that Britney Spears and people like her are truly “good at heart” and just need “guidance and…good people in their lives.”

To say that the Lord considers sinful people “good enough” and to push it so far as to even say he “delights in them” is unbiblical.  If you have questions about this and have not yet read it, please see my article “Is God’s Anger Warranted?” at

The Lord, by His very nature cannot feel pleasure or delight in people who are without saving faith and wicked at heart, because “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).”  Hebrews 11:6 says that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” and Proverbs 28:9 that “If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”

There is nothing coming out of the life of an unregenerate person that can cause the Lord to feel joy, or to rejoice over them- not their prayers, or their “righteous acts,” for even these are considered like a “polluted garment (Is 64:6)” since they are not done for the glory of God through faith.

Though the Lord often feels compassion and chooses to show mercy, this is not motivated by anything in or done by the chosen vessel.  “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy (Romans 9:14).”  I have sat with professing Christians who have taught that the Lord saw something good in you, something heroic, something worth His while and that is why He appointed you and chose you.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Jesus did say “You did not choose me but I chose you (John 15:16),” and made it clear that salvation is initiated by Himself.  But on what basis?  Some will say that He chose you based on your own good decision, on the basis of humbling your own heart, on the mustering up of your own faith, or worst of all that He would save you because of your faithfulness or “good” that you have done.  Yet the Lord took no pleasure in you or me before we were saved.  When did He see fit to have mercy on us?  “While we were still weak (this means powerless to accomplish salvation) at the right time Christ died for the ungodlybut God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us…For if while we were yet enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

It is so essential to understand that He did not die for obedient, pleasing, willing-to-believe people, but rather for people who are ungodly and absolutely helpless to contribute anything to their own salvation.  Jesus said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Mark 2:17).”

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